2010 off to a good start for Blugolds

Story by Ashley Hofer

Posted at 11:00 p.m. 2/8/10

With two wins after two matchups, the coach and one of the players said they agree: the Blugold men’s tennis team is off to a good start for 2010.

The team won both of its away meets 8-1 against St. Cloud State University and Concordia-Moorhead Saturday in Sartell, Minn.

“It was apparent the team was ready to play, both mentally and physically,” coach Tom Gillman said. “They looked ready to go.”

The day – and the season – started for the Blugolds with a match against St. Cloud. Eau Claire won all six of its matches in singles competition and the No. 1 and No. 3 matches in doubles competition. It was in the No. 1 spot in doubles competition against the Huskies that Eau Claire earned its best win of the day. The 8-2 win came from the duo of sophomore Chris Kuna and senior Phil Loprinzi.

After the first victory, the team played Concordia-Moorhead. There, the Blugolds won all but the No. 1 match in singles competition. In doubles competition, the team won all of its matches, sweeping the Cobbers.

Loprinzi said the team played strong all day and the pair of victories was a nice reward.

“We kept at it; we never let up,” Loprinzi said. “It’s fun to kick off the season with two good wins.”

In total for singles competition, the Blugolds had a solid four players go undefeated the whole day: Kuna in the No. 2 spot, junior Lars Olson in third, senior Kevin Fawcett in the fourth and junior Eric Wollum in the fifth. From the No. 6 spot, junior Christ Thornton and freshman Ben Robertson also picked up victories for the team.

Gillman said the team is really coachable right now, and the men are willing to listen and try new things. But looking past these wins, the team has only one goal for the season: to play at its highest level all the time. With this, he said, all other possible goals will happen too.

“We want to keep things simple,” he said. “Our hope is that we have the right goal, so we don’t need other goals.”

Loprinzi said he wants the team to play well enough to make the NCAA Championship, as it did last season for only the second time in school history. He also said it would be a boost for the team to beat rivals Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.), Luther and UW-Whitewater.

The Blugolds will get the chance to accomplish one of those feats next Saturday when the team takes on both Mankato State and Gustavus Adolphus.

But Gillman said there wouldn’t be any special preparations for next weekend. If the team plays its best, no adjustment will be necessary, he said.

“We’ll get the team to play on a level so we don’t have to amp it up,” he said. “I think what we’ll go after is for our preparation not to change no matter who we play.”